How on earth is one to react to the latest musings of the Archbishop of Canterbury. I was a bit lucky that I was heading out of the country today when BBC Wales rang me. I was boarding the plane when they invited me on to talk about Dr. Rowan Williams' lecture to the Royal Courts of Justice. It would have been walking on very thin ice indeed. It would have been easy if I didn't have such great respect for the man - as a theologian and an academic. But he is not much of a politician. I cannot think of anything more designed to wind up the British people than to suggest that sharia law should apply in some circumstances in our country.
The fluoride state
As the Government finds more and more ways to curtail our liberties, the Health Secretary chips in with his own brand of interference in the way that we live our lives. The problem, as Ben Goldacre points out in his Guardian Bad Science column, is that there is no evidence that the addition of fluoride to our water supply will have the beneficial effects claimed for it:
Watch your back, Darling
The whispering campaign against Alistair Darling just went public. The Sunday Times carries an article today that is packed with devastating quotes from government insiders, albeit anonymous ones. We are told by an MP close to Number 10 that Brown’s team are openly considering moving Darling out of Number 11 in a reshuffle while a Treasury Civil Servant bemoans that Ed Balls is not in charge and claims that there wouldn’t be any of these problems if he was. You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to work out who might be hoping from this briefing against Darling.
Charles Clarke - Gordon Brown is a Ditherer
Charles Clarke has made my prediction of Gordon Brown being given the boot by May, a whole lot more credible today. Speaking to Petronella Wyatt of the Daily Mail, Clarke has launched into what can only be described as a scathing attack on the Prime Minister. Not only that, he even has the bottle (I wonder if he has a spare one for Brown) to praise David Cameron for his decisiveness over the expenses fiasco. This is just a small taste of the Clarke's criticism of Brown:
Charles Clarke denies sour grapes
.....after he broke into Downing Street, sneaked into Gordon Brown's bedroom and chopped a sleeve off each of the Prime Minister's suits. There is some good news, however, and it concerns Clarke's health: he's out of the coma. Bear in mind he said the following a day or two ago and not a year or two ago:
Philipa has asked me what I think of the James Purnell "second home" funding "scandal". Well, first of all I would like to express my total lack of surprise at this "revelation". Every MP who has a constituency outside London does this. They get £22,000 a year each to help them fund a pied-a-terre for those evenings when they have to be in London. Rather disgracefully, many MPs with constituencies very close to London also take advantage of this subsidy. Guido has been chipping away at this particular trough for a good while, and he knows more about it than I do.
Will others follow the Wallace example?
On Sunday I drew attention to Tory MP Ben Wallace and his unilateral decision to put all his expenses online, for all to see. What to you and me seems an obvious and praiseworthy step for a parliamentarian was actually a risky one for Mr Wallace. David Cameron may be striking the right poses on transparency, but behind him the Tory ranks are seething with anger at the mess they find themselves in.
FT interview with Clegg: LibDems could back Conservatives
Due to my self-denying ordinance, I missed this one on the tickertape machine when it came through:
Campaign against 42 days extension
The government will try and push its Counter Terrorism Bill through parliament in the next few weeks. This bill includes the provision to hold someone in detention, without charging them, for 42 days - a two week increase on the current limit of 28 days. Unsurprisingly, New Labour has been trying to paint this extension of police powers in benign terms. But we should not be fooled. Why? Because:
How Do Y0u Solve A Problem Like Sharia
Cassilis is always a good read although he is a bit of “Seeing-all-sides-and-must therefore be right “ merchant. I always like CS Lewis on this when he pointed out there are endless answers to a question until you know the right one and then there is one. Anyway, on the Bishop bashing issue he has pointed out that in a previous Church state row ( forcing Adoption agencies to consider gays ) those who are incandescent about Sharia law encroaching on the secular hegemony felt that religious considerations should take precedence over the states universal edict. I like the comparison because I think it takes us to the heart if what is going on here.
Labour's parallel universes - Part 2 - London
Saturday 9 February was the second of two all-member consultations about the Labour manifesto for the forthcoming Mayoral and Greater London Assembly elections on 1 May 2008. A beautiful morning tempted me onto my bike to cycle down to the Lilian Bayliss Technology School at Vauxhall, in the London Borough of Lambeth.
Should Brown be worrying about the Clarke onslaughts?
Could the Prime Minister really “obliterate Labour?” While all the focus that has been on the US elections we have not really looked at the growing attacks on Gordon Brown from his long-standing foe within the Labour movement, Charles Clarke. In an interview with Petronella Wyatt in the Daily Mail this weekend the former Home Secretary and still-loyal Blairite issues one broadside after another against his party leader.
This country is politically dead and I am frightened
Dead countries almost always give birth to dictatorships. Remember that old one about for evil to prosper, all that's needed is for good men to do nothing? When it comes to voting, most good men (OK, and women... yada yada) under 35 are doing nothing. They know of no reason to vote. They see politics and politicians as nothing to do with them.
Wendy: from the frying pan into the fire
Just as Wendy and her team think she has got off with it **Fuc&ing Brilliant**, now the real issues of Wendy's leadership will come to the fore. But not before she defends herself in a new donorgate scandal that is brewing over the funding of a constituency organisation by a 'front organisation', the Scottish Industry Forum. Now some of the Tory-supporting donors to SIF are making formal complaints to the Electoral Commission that they were deceived into making donations to her Paisley North election campaign - and not the economic renewal of Renfrewshire!
The danger with Darling
Patrick Hennessy says Charles Clarke has gone too far this time. There is surely no way back for him under the Brown regime after his interview with the Daily Mail yesterday. He described the PM as a "ditherer", echoing David Cameron's line of attack. The problem for Clarke is that he has had so many goes at Brown that they long ago lost impact. He is the Blairite lounge bar bore: "And another thing..." Smarter Blairites are keeping their powder dry. John Reid is a "volcano waiting to explode", according to one observer who spent some time with him recently. However, Reid will know he has one shot at doing his old enemy GB any serious damage and will pick his moment.